Serves: n/a
Cost: ~€4
Preparation time: ~12 + 1 hours
Calories: ~n/a

I’m not sure about you but I love the idea of canning and pickling. I have a vision of one day having a house, a big bright, airy kitchen, a garden which I can fill with vegetable and fruit seeds during the spring – harvesting them during the summer and doing all sorts of exciting things with them. I want a separate building which I can fill with jars – jams, marmalades, pickles. I want to be able to stock up for winter and maintain an inventory so I know just how many jars and bottles I have out there at any one time. Eventually I even want to have chest freezers and freeze things I have grown. All things in time though. For the moment I have to make do with the space and resources that I have available to me and one way of satisfying my conserving urges is through canning. I make a mean chutney but it was time to try something a little different.

I was talking with Sissi a while ago about mustard and she recommended I try something called “Savora”. A product similar to Mustard by the company Amora which features mustard, cinnamon,  cayenne pepper, nutmeg, turmeric, cloves, celery, garlic and tarragon. I was pleased to discover this and think I’ll probably be keeping this in the house from now on (thanks Sissi!) but I also immediately noticed that it was a lot like a smoothpiccalilli to me – a British take on Indian pickle (apparently). For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a deliciously tangy, spiced, crunchy collection of vegetables, cooked in vinegar commonly eaten with cold meats, cheese, bread, and so forth. If you want to know my idea of the world’s best sandwich it’s as follows: two slices of white bread, thinly spread with mayo, stick in some thinly-sliced strong cheddar, sliced cucumber, thinly-sliced ham, sandwich it all together with some piccalilli and baby, you got a party goin’ on in yo’ mouth!


As with many things, quality of the raw materials plays a big role on the final outcome of the dish. The biggest tip I can give you is to use a good vinegar which isn’t too sharp in flavour. Additionally, make sure you don’t forget to brine the vegetables over night. This will ensure they retain flavour, crunch and bite after cooking in the vinegar.

If you have a garden and end up growing a whole load of veg like this (let’s face it – cauliflower is vile!… sorry, I grapple with it yearly and still can’t get on board with it fully!) this is the perfect use for it.

Have a wonderful Thursday everyone – I’ll be back on Sunday with another gluten-free post, as well as some photos of… well, you’ll have to wait and see. I have a family member visiting and we’ll be visiting a thing or two… some nice photo opportunities to be had!


[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]


Piccalilli ingredients

For the brine

  • 2 litres of cold water
  • 100g Salt

For the piccalilli

  • 2kg of Mixed Vegetables (Cauliflower, Marrow, Cucumber, Silver-skin onions, gherkins, carrot, etc)
  • 1.5 litres of Vinegar
  • 250g Sugar
  • 30g Plain Flour
  • 20g Ground Ginger
  • 20g Mustard Powder
  • 10g Turmeric

You’ll also need

  • At least 4 or 5 medium-sized Preserving Jars


  1. At least 12 hours, preferably 24 hours, before you plan on making this, wash and dice the vegetables very finely. Break the cauliflower into tiny florets and peel the small onions – remember: piccalilli is often eaten in sandwiches so that should give you an indication of the sort of size things need to be. Mix the salt well with the water for the brine and then pour the vegetables in. Cover and leave to soak for 12-24 hours before draining.
    Dicing up the vegetables
  2. Place the sugar, turmeric, ginger and mustard into a large pan and pour in the vinegar. Mix well and then add in the vegetables. Bring the pot to the boil, but do not cover. You probably want to make sure there is some good ventilation in your kitchen – boiling vinegar fumes can be rather overpowering. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender (though not mushy). At this point, heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and wash your preserving jars thoroughly. Place upside down in the hot oven to sterilise for 10 minutes (not including the rubber seals of course (place these into a jug of boiling water to sterilise) while you move onto the next step.
    Cooking up the piccalilli
  3. Mix the flour in a little extra vinegar using a small whisk and then mix into the piccalilli in the pan. Stir well and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes or so while the pickle thickens up. Meanwhile, remove the preserving jars from the oven carefully and allow to cool slightly. Spoon the slightly thickened piccalilli into the still hot preserving jars, filling up to about 1.5cm away from the lid, apply the rubber seal and close the jars immediately. Enjoy with meats, sandwiches, cheeses… the possibilities are endless!



  1. says

    Hi, Charles! It sounds fabulous! I have several British pickling and preserving books (yes!) so the name Piccalilli is not new to me. I have never tasted it however, but now seeing your appetising photos you can be sure I will make it when vegetables are a bit cheaper on the markets. I am sure I would love it! (By the way, you know, I never sterilise the jars, I only pour very hot preserves into it and quickly close. This is the way my mum has been preserving too.)
    The funny thing is I love cauliflower so much, I am able to eat one whole only blanched, alone. (I know I’m in the minority…). The only thing I hate is its smell when it cooks, but, well, it’s a cousin of the cabbage!
    Looking at the cucumbers I instantly thought of Moomin salad I made last year and intend to carry on making this year too. I’m sure you would love it! (And since it’s recommended by Moomins… it has much more value 😉 )
    Thank you so much for mentioning me and kindly linking to my blog. I am really glad you like Savora, it does have a similar colour to your Piccalilli. I think I will buy it this weekend, I haven’t had it for ages and it’s really good.

    • says

      Hi Sissi – regarding the sterilising… I remember indeed yes, though you boil the jars, no, once they’re sealed? Or am I thinking of someone else?

      Interestingly, I actually love cauliflower when it’s raw. As a result I could probably enjoy it if only lightly blanched, but when it’s boiled/steamed it’s just terrible. Even when roasted it’s pretty bad in too high quantities!

      Thanks for letting me know about the Savora – I must have walked past it hundreds of times… it’s really nice to finally try it!

      • says

        I boil the closed jars to make sure they are well closed, but most women I know who preserve for years don’t bother with this (in several different countries, so it must be very popular). They only pour very hot liquids/jams/preserves, they close the jars and that’s it. Some of them put the jars upside down so that they close better. What I do is often considered as additional security.
        Anyway, I think our both methods are considered not safe by the American official preserving guides.

  2. says

    I too would love to be doing so many amazing things in the kitchen except for the space in my kitchen and the lack of storage everywhere else. I just love piccalilli. I’m sure I’ve had this many times. It’s a great pickle and works so well with cheese and crackers/bread. Don’t you just love the colour of it! Great recipe Charles xx

    • says

      Thanks Charlie – cheese, yeah – it goes SO well with cheese. I like it with little onions in normally, but couldn’t for the life of me find any this time alas :(

  3. says

    Oh I tried something similar in UK, very nice indeed…I have the same dream..a bigger space where I can grow things..OMG! I would enjoy it.

  4. says

    I am planning to win the lotto too, Charles. I would love a plot of land to grow vegetables, and a potting shed (I thought I could squeeze a small space out of our shed out back, but sadly it is so chuck full of stuff, I don’t think it will ever be possible!) So this is that wonderful pickle that I usually get with a ploughman’s lunch in the UK? I absolutely adore it and you can be sure I will be making it for the summer months when we often eat a Charcuterie for dinner.
    Happy Thursday!
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

    • says

      Hi Eva – you can usually do a lot with small patches of land. I actually had a tiny square of earth in my parents’ garden where I would grow lettuces and radishes and so forth. One year I grew potatoes there, and another time I grew ornamental gourds which trailed everywhere… so pretty 😀

      I think the pickle they usually serve with ploughmans’ lunches might actually be Branston Pickle, although I’m not sure actually – it was so long since I had one!

      • says

        Its been a while for me too Charles, never the less, your recipe with the horgeouse yellow colour is one that I shall try to make. Very pretty and I’m sure very tasty.
        PS, so sorry you don’t enjoy cauliflower, have you tried the cauliflower and celeriac mash I made? It will hopefully change the way you feel.

  5. says

    “Cauliflower is vile.” This made me laugh. I thought so, too, when Mom made me eat it covered with cheese sauce. Apparently, you can tolerate it in picalilli.

    • says

      Hi Sharyn – yuck, yeah… cauliflower cheese… gah, that dish is just horrid. Giant clumps of cauliflower, spawn of the devil, with sauce on top. What a boring dish. Cauliflower is actually delicious raw, like broccoli. As long as it still has crispy crunch it’s pretty good, but once it goes soft inside… bleurgh.

  6. says

    Hi Charles,
    This looks so tasty! I love Indian pickles and would love to try this British version. Your photographs are stunning and I love the detailed explanation on how to sterilise the jars.

    • says

      Thanks Asmita – there are quite a few methods to sterilise jars it seems. In the US they often use a different method involving boiling the jars I think, but this method has always worked very well for me. I think as long as you don’t have the food spoiling in the jar, that’s a sign of success :)

    • says

      Haha, I think it totally would go awesomely on a burger to be honest… it has a lovely piquancy which works really well with meat!

  7. says

    Yay! I can’t wait for more pictures of your local world. I love them. :) And you had me just giggling with this post. First with the party goin’ on in yo’ mouth and then with cauliflower being vile (which I completely agree with you on). Love it! This piccalilli looks fantastic and I love the sound of your favorite sandwich. :)

    • says

      Hi Kristy – have you tried raw cauliflower before? That’s actually really good – nothing at all like the cooked rubbish! Tomorrow will be fun – in case you want a clue as to what I’ll be doing… it involves locks – the kind which don’t need keys :)

  8. says

    It’s so nice to come back after a long, tiring week and a half and find something that I love and haven’t thought of making and now am dying to make :) I’ve a chunk of ham that’ll go beautifully with this in a triple decker sandwich! Oh yum! Trouble is, I can’t wait! Think I’ll go buy a jar first.

    • says

      Hi Ping – great to know you’re a piccalilli fan :) Sometimes my colleagues think I’m weird because of my food-tastes 😀 I’m really glad that things are going a bit better for you these days! :)

  9. says

    I love your vision Charles…a big bright, airy kitchen, and a separate building for your preserves… Canning and pickling makes abundant sense – capturing produce at its peak and being able to enjoy it through the year. My latest exploration is fermentation because then you also enhance the nutritive properties of food – literally grow them. The possibilities are endless and just so inspiring; I just wish I had more time… Love the ingredients in your piccalilli Charles and particularly the spices… Lovely luminosity in your photos and what a great table your working with! Have a nice weekend :).

    • says

      Thanks Kelly – can you see the “holes” to the right of the plate in the second to last photo? That’s where I accidentally drilled into the table when I was making the holes in my car registration plates when I had to make the holes for the rivets… oopsie 😀

      Fermentation – good luck with that! What sort of things do you plan to make? I was quite the little wine-maker when I was younger. I had a big fermentation bin in my parents hallway and a load of demijohns and airlocks and so forth. I made carrot wine, parsnip wine, peach wine and so forth, to name but a few. Parsnip wine is actually quite similar to sherry I found – it had a quite high alcoholic content too!

  10. says

    Charles, I love your piccalilli photos! Though I like a little piccalilli now and then, I’ve never made it. Might need to do that this summer. Did you see the series All Creatures Great and Small (from the 70s)? If not, you must. It’s fabulous! And there is an episode where James makes a veterinary call on a farmer who sits him down at the kitchen table for a real “treat” – a nice piece of bacon that was actually just a big hunk of fat. The farmer ate it gleefully, with “the grease runnin’ down me chin,” but James had to pile on the piccalilli in order to get it down!

    • says

      Hi Jean – Yes! I remember the series, but my favourite was the books. I must have read all three (was it three or five books… I can’t remember now) many, many times when I was younger and I can well remember that part. His horror at being offered a sheer piece of fat, LOL! 😀

  11. says

    Hi Charles. You know I actually do have the space to grow veggies and I am trying to get to the point where I can begin canning. The concept of canning scares me a bit though. I love this piccalilli condiment and am going to tyr making it. Love the idea of putting spicy, cruchy veggies on a sandwich. It really helps when you are vegetarian. Saving this. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    • says

      Hi Suzi – my next things on my list to try is going to be pickled eggs, onions and gherkins I think – I love them all so much, but it’s difficult here… I like them pickled in malt vinegar, but it’s hard to find that in France. I find spirit vinegar extremely astringent and sharp so I’ll have to look around a bit before I try them!

  12. a_boleyn says

    I’m not a fan of pickled stuff (though I do make an exception for pickled ginger) so things like this recipe aren’t part of my recipe bank but I’m always impressed by your many talents including canning so I had admire the lovely jars.

    (typed from the staff room while waiting for my end of day “hall patrol duty”, walkie talkie in hand and practicing the glare to give the kids to get them OUT of the school, on a lovely Friday afternoon when I’d rather be out the door BEFORE the high school kids.)

    • says

      Thanks A_Boleyn – the jars are really cute actually – I think a good set of canning/preserving jars is a nice thing to buy for yourself (if you enjoy the hobby). Of course, you can use old jam jars too but I have a bit of a thing for uniformity and hotch-potches of different shapes and sizes irk me a little 😀

      Hope you were able to escape from school successfully :)

      • says

        I bought two sizes of jars for future canning uses as, like you, I TRY for uniformity. So far, only the mixed citrus curd has been canned as I eat jam so rarely that I don’t see myself making large batches in the future. Maybe quince jelly this year when the crop is harvested. I’ll have to watch for them at the city market.

        Yes, the students left very quickly on Friday so I could jump in my car for the 45 min drive home.

        I’m going to post my chocolate cheesecake recipe soon … just got my computer back today (it’s been at my nephew’s house since Friday for care and cleaning). I hope you enjoy it.

  13. says

    Ok, I know I am saying this alot lately but this is totally new to me and I just love your recipe, I can only imagine what these veges will taste like!
    I have the exact same dream as you do,my own garden, growing my own food, canning, gardening..some day

    • says

      Hi Sawsan – it’s always nice when I can introduce someone to a new dish… I hope you have a chance to try it one time. Of course, like everything, maybe it’s not to everyone’s taste, but I do think its important to try things at least once! :)

  14. says

    In my mind, canning = Sissi (teehee!). I’ve never had Piccalilli before, I think. Canning or making pickles seem time consuming (I can make a dinner if I have time for pickles?) and I just don’t have extra time with the kids around. Just like baking, that’s my excuse. I do make very quick pickles for my family, especially my son loves pickles. I wish I have one of your jar. =D

    Looking forward to seeing your photos in your next post! Enjoy taking pictures and family time!

    • says

      Hi Nami – I find making conserves or pickles to be not too time-consuming. Depending on what you make, it can take some initial outlay of time to prepare the ingredients, but the cooking usually takes care of itself, without much need to sit and watch the pot. It just needs a dedication of about 1 or 2 hours one evening, after the kids have gone to bed or something and the results it garners are wonderful. Beautiful pots of things which will last for months!

  15. says

    I’ve never pickled anything, but I am totally on board with your idea of a bright airy kitchen & a nice space to preserve fruits and veggies. One day, perhaps! I love your little jars, too. Now I’m intrigued by the thought of your next post!

    • says

      Hi Laura – my next pickling thing is going to be eggs. I *love* pickled eggs SO much… I love how they get all rubbery from being in the vinegar. Most people I know seem to hate them, haha, but damn they’re good eatin’ 😀

  16. says

    A house, a big bright, airy kitchen, a veggie garden, a fruit orchard, yes, a chest freezer, NO.
    Give me an upright, self-defrost freezer. Do you know how horrible it is to get things from the bottom of a chest freezer? But then you are an organized and methodical person so I am sure it will work for you.
    Your pickle has such lovely color from the tumeric.

    • says

      Thanks Norma – I find chest freezers very good for bulk, long-term storage, but then I am quite tall so have never had any problems using them!

  17. says

    I love piccalilli a favourite English pickle. I am not sure it is all that popular in Australia because it is most often seen in cheap jars in the supermarket, not made with your lovely fresh vegies. The crunch and the colour of it is beautiful. I would like to have a jar of yours in my fridge

  18. says

    I am the opposite of you with cauliflower…love it steamed and roasted but even though I can eat it raw, it’s not my favorite. But pickled is another story…I need to venture into this cooking technique :) Enjoy your weekend!

    • says

      Hi Liz – I can see you’re one of those people who, like my mother, seem to think cauliflower is wonderful. It’s strange because I love cabbage but cauliflower is just “yeurck”

  19. says

    Hi Charles,

    Oh I just love lightly cooked cauliflower-creamy cauliflower soup, a delicious cauliflower cheese and even griddled slices…perhaps one day you will be converted!!!

  20. says

    I’m totally with you on everything you said in the first paragraph. I have always wanted a big garden, and can “harvest” my dinner, pickle the rest for the winter. One of these years, I’d make this dream come true :)

    • says

      Hi Yudith. I hope one day, when I get my home, I’ll still be blogging along so I can share the journey with my readers :)

  21. says

    I love piccalilli and my mouth was literally watering at the thought of all those lovely vinegary, mustardy, crunchy flavours! I do a lot of pickling and jam making but have never made this…time to put that right methinks 😉

    • says

      Hi Chica – nice to find another piccalilli fan. I just wish I’d been able to find some gherkins instead of cucumber!

  22. says

    I dream the same dream, Charles, of one day having the big kitchen, the freezers and the sun filled garden. Something to look forward to, I guess! :) Your piccalilli looks like it would be delicious on a sandwich to me…maybe even as a sub for giardiniera on a classic Italian with salumi. Love the color!

    • says

      Hi Betsy, I’ve always wanted bamboo as well… a big thick bamboo forest with a little summer hut in the middle. Unfortunately bamboo doesn’t really grow where I’ll probably be living, lol 😀 Oh well!

  23. says

    Charles – I’m a huge fan of canning and preserving as well; however, now that I’m pushing …ty, I’ve sold my canner and preserve one jar at a time. In our first house, I kept my canned jars of veggies and jams on shelves in the crawl space under the house. After a few years of crawling under the house to get a jar of beans, Bobby converted a closet to a pantry. :) I still love it, but just don’t have the energy. This piccalilli looks delicious and with the right adjustments, I would think it could be converted to make just one jar. Love the toasts you are serving it on. Thanks for sharing this!

    • says

      Hi MJ – I think you could easily adjust the recipe down, but the only problem is, pickles like this improve with time. The one jar that you made would be good undoubtedly but not as good as it would be if you were able to leave it for some months!

  24. says

    Charles, I absolutely love a spoonful of chutney or pickle along with crackers, cheese and other nibblies (my own version of a ploughman’s). What I wouldn’t give to try a jar of your piccalilli….it looks like a big undertaking, with big rewards. I grew up with a cold cellar in our house, but I’m afraid that kind of space is only in my dreams now as well!

    • says

      Hi Barb, I love a good pickle as well. It wasn’t too difficult to make, though the most annoying part was breaking up the damn cauliflower. Took aaaaaages 😀

  25. says

    Dear Charles, I would say that your dream is quite common among true gastronomes! LOl
    It is my persi\onal opinion that everyone should learn about canning. After all 50 years ago it was a requirement in every home, and luckily enough more and more people have realised at long last that is not yummy but also ecological and healthy!
    What would I do without the Missus’ pickled wasabi? LOL
    Best regards,

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